Mar 16, 2015
New organic spinach variety hits marketplace

Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) has announced the release of a new spinach variety called Abundant Bloomsdale. The name is a tribute to OSA's predecessor, Abundant Life Seed Foundation.

“Our newest commercial release exemplifies Organic Seed Alliance’s approach to participatory plant breeding,” said Micaela Colley, OSA's executive director. “OSA’s plant breeders worked collaboratively with eight farms on the Olympic Peninsula to develop an exceptional variety for organic farmers.”

Breeding partners included four farms in Port Townsend, Washington – Frog Hill Farm, Oatsplanter Farm Seed, Corona Farm and the Abundant Life Farm – in addition to Nash’s Organic Produce in Sequim and Midori Farm, Old Tarboo Farm and Dharma Ridge Farm in Quilcene.

“Regional networks of seed stewards, like the network of farmers that delivered Abundant Bloomsdale, are protecting genetic diversity in our food crops while expanding choice in the organic seed marketplace,” Colley said. “And because Abundant Bloomsdale is open-pollinated, growers are encouraged to save and select seed from their harvests to adapt the variety to their own local growing conditions and market needs. This is especially important as regional climates continue to shift.”

Abundant Bloomsdale spinach is slow to bolt and cold hardy, and has deeply savoyed (crinkled) and succulent leaves. The dark green color indicates high levels of carotenoids, such as lutein and beta-carotene, and the flavor is described as sweet. The variety is slower growing yet produces exceptionally large, upright leaves in the mild conditions of the Pacific Northwest, according to OSA.

Marko Colby and Hanako Myers of Midori Farm helped develop Abundant Bloomsdale over the course of six years, and are working with OSA to improve a number of other crops, including chard, chicories and purple sprouting broccoli. They are part of the growing movement of seed stewards who are improving plant varieties on their farm.

“We joined the Abundant Bloomsdale spinach project because we’re interested in adapting varieties to our own farm that can also eventually be shared with the larger organic community,” Marko Colby said.

The Abundant Bloomsdale project began in 2003, OSA's inaugural year as a research, education, and advocacy organization. The breeding project began as an educational opportunity for Washington state peninsula growers, and grew to be the focus of dozens of farmer workshops and field days as demand for OSA’s research and education programs grew. Thousands of farmers have visited Abundant Bloomsdale spinach fields to learn about on-farm plant breeding and organic seed production over the course of a dozen years, according to OSA.

The variety is currently available for purchase in seed packets (bulk options in 2016) at Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, High Mowing Organic Seeds, Hudson Valley Seed Library, Oatsplanter Farm Seed and E&M Seeds. A portion of the proceeds will be returned to OSA’s participatory plant breeding program.

Breeding new organic seed varieties is a multi-year process. Abundant Bloomsdale spinach was made possible thanks to the many individuals who donate to OSA each year, and through support from the Clif Bar Family Foundation’s Seed Matters initiative and the Port Townsend Food Co-op, according to OSA.


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